SCITUATE, Mass. — Three fishermen who clung to debris in the frigid waters off the coast of Massachusetts for nearly an hour after their boat sank survived thanks to a sharp-eyed woman on shore who was the only person to call 911.
The 55-foot (16.75-meter) Bing Bing went down so fast about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from shore on Tuesday afternoon that the crew didn’t have time to don survival suits or even make a distress call.
“The whole boat flipped over; I was thrown in the water,” crew member Joe Roderick told WCVB-TV from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from hypothermia and from swallowing saltwater and diesel fuel. The other two crew members also required hospitalization.
The men made small talk to keep one another alert, he said.
“A million things ran through my head,” he said. “Am I going to make it home to see my daughters?”
They were in the 42-degree (5.5 C) water for about 45 minutes, clinging to a piece of hose, officials said.
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Pam Harght was at her desk on a work-related video call in her home in Marshfield and saw the boat sink even though it was so far away. Her home is elevated, and it was a crystal-clear day.
“It was large enough that I could see it was in distress, then I saw a large cloud of black smoke, then I saw the boat disappear,” she said.
She texted her mother and husband to ask if they had seen anything. “Does anyone see this? Am I going crazy?” she said.
She thought other people had already called 911, but it turned out she was the first, and only one, to call.
Roderick is grateful she did.
“If it wasn’t for this woman, I probably wouldn’t be here,” he told the station.
The men had about 5 minutes left to live by the time they were rescued, officials told Harght.
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“Obviously, it was a great feeling,” she said. “My brother is in the fishing industry, and I thought, ‘That easily could have been his boat.'”